AN EXCLUSIVE STAY AT ‘THE BEST CHALET IN THE WORLD’: LA TRUFFE BLANCHE
May 25, 2016
Writer: Rob Wetton
Having stayed at La Truffe Blanche in Verbier, Switzerland, I can genuinely say that it lives up to its reputation. And that is quite a claim, considering that the establishment is widely considered the best chalet in the world and one of the most exclusive private holiday destinations that money can buy.
As the chalet is frequented by return guests who want to avoid media attention (from Middle Eastern royalty to renowned celebrities) rarely do people read personal accounts of this venue from guests who have actually stayed there. This makes a review such as this all the more exclusive and provides a unique opportunity to reveal what truly gives the chalet its incredible reputation and equally incredible 180,000 Swiss franc-per-week price tag.
AN INSIDER’S OVERVIEW
Constructed by renowned extravagant architect, interior designer and real estate developer, Jonathan Leitersdorf, La Truffe Blanche is a 3,000m2 private residence nestled on the hillside of one of Switzerland’s most exclusive ski resorts – Verbier.
Having lived its past life as a charming hotel-chalet, Jonathan transformed the residence into a one-of-a-kind opulent retreat, installing a 15m underground onyx marble pool (beside a sauna and hammam), private gym, sushi bar, dance floor fully-equipped for private DJs, enormous private cinema, private spa space with nine treatment rooms for massages, nine luxurious bedrooms and three lifts connecting all the spaces.
When it comes to the interior designing, guests can look forward to complementary extravagance, including original million-franc artworks from the likes of Pissarro, a melange of rare antique and modern furniture, handcrafted wooden textures set above elegant fabric wall coverings and state-of-the-art electronic equipment.
Suffice to say that the scale of this chalet, coupled with the unique design elements, exquisite mountain views and truly unrivalled service, presents what is likely an unsurpassed level of luxury anywhere in the world.
SERVICE WITHOUT LIMITS
Let’s face it, if you’re paying close to CHF200K a week for your holiday, you’ll want more than a palatial place to stay in the Swiss alps. And La Truffe Blanche promises that you’ll get more.
The chalet prides itself in having a service team fit for royalty, with two chefs (one Michelin star or equivalent), four waitresses, a butler, a driver and four cleaning staff, all managed by the chalet’s host of ten years, Gino. But to have a royalty-class team means not only offering the very best staff, but also being prepared to deliver any request, however extraordinary.
That’s where Gino comes in. His vision is to make his guests feel like ‘they’re visiting home’. While expectedly highly professional and always on call, Gino possesses a rare quality in the luxury industry: unpretentiousness. And it is largely thanks to his genuine character that the chalet feels as welcoming as it does.
Gino also has a reputation of being somewhat of a magician. However exceptional a request from a guest, he takes it seriously and usually makes the impossible possible. This includes requests for a welcome party on the top of the mountain when guests arrived by helicopter, organising heli shopping trips to nearby Milan and coordinating dance parties in the chalet. Gino will also often take the initiative to add extra value, for example when a guest wished to have an Asian dinner, he had Asian outfits prepared for all the staff and decorated the entire chalet with an Asian feel for the evening.
On other occasions, when guests make requests, which even the very finest hotels would be unable to consider, Gino still delivers. Several stories, which stood out included a request for a very large quantity of Beluga caviar at 2am in the morning (which he managed to courier by 4am from Geneva, 160km away) and a royal guest’s desire to spontaneously climb to the top of the mountain in the early hours of the morning with his entourage.
To Gino, his guests are his responsibility as soon as they arrive in Verbier. And from that moment, he ‘makes sure he knows exactly where they are’. It is that level of attention to service, which makes every step of the guest’s experience—from when they arrive to when they depart—exceptional and therefore memorable.
Gino admits that ‘the first two days are the most difficult because when they’re paying this price, they try to test the staff and the limits of the experience.’ But he continued ‘when they see our level of service, they get comfortable and they unwind in this environment and then everyone, including all of us, start having fun.’
LIVING IT UP INSIDE THE CHALET
Once at the chalet, guests will discover endless sources of entertainment within its walls.
The Lower Level
When presented with height regulations, Mr. Leitersdorf did not abandon his vision for an opulent bar, gym, pool and spa area. Instead, he implemented a creative plan: build underground.
The lower level allows active guests the opportunity to enjoy a gym with the machines, weights, boxing space and additional equipment that you would expect at a large five star hotel. The only difference is that the entire space is reserved just for you.
It also caters to recreational guests, teasing them with the option of a cocktail in the candelabra-lit pool area, a swim above the onyx marble and a treatment in one of the spa rooms.
The Spa & The Verbier Touch
The spa deserves a mention on its own. Indeed it is a testament to the opulence of the establishment that a private residence has the capacity of nine fully equipped spa rooms. To optimise their spa sessions, guests also have the opportunity to benefit from a visit by one of Verbier’s premier massage therapy providers – The Verbier Touch. As owner Brigitta Fairhall highlighted to me before my session, all of her therapists are qualified as physiotherapists, meaning that they ‘don’t only deliver a relaxing massage, but one which actively helps your body recover’. This is particularly beneficial after a day on the ski fields.
LIVING IT UP OUTSIDE THE CHALET
Verbier itself is a trending destination among royalty and celebrities, so little wonder why Le Truffe Blanche has such high demand. The alpine village is where Prince Andrew and Fergie recently chose to purchase a chalet, Sir Richard Branson set up a high-end residence and Leonardo DiCaprio, The Beckhams, Jude Law, Jamie Oliver and the Danish royal family favour skiing. What’s the allure? Not only is it a chic village, but as part of the Four Valleys, it offers one of the best skiing options in Switzerland, with almost 100 lifts covering close to 400km of runs. What’s more, it’s one of the sunniest areas in the country, with an average 300 sunny days a year, making ski trips just that much more enjoyable.
When you’ve found yourself at the most sought after venue in this spectacular part of the world, you can expect your outdoor options to be limitless. But there are two adventures that you have to experience while staying at La Truffe Blanche: snowboarding with ex-pro Andre Sommer and exploring the mountains with Gino.
Snowboarding with Andre Sommer
Whether you’re a skier or a boarder, you would be missing out if you didn’t book a snowboard lesson with Andre Sommer. Andre has been teaching snowboarding for 16 years in Verbier and now runs his own family business, Independent Snowboarding. As an ex-pro and current judge of the finals for the Freeride World Tour, you can be sure that he’ll teach you a thing or two. I personally found him a very savvy instructor (I improved my technique in a few hours). And most importantly we had a lot of fun on the slopes. I guess that’s why Justin Timberlake books him when he visits.
Exploring Verbier and Surrounds
Everyone enjoys flying down the mountain, but what many people don’t appreciate is that there’s something alluring and satisfying in walking up. While at the chalet you can ask Gino about the nearby walking options. One of his favourites is a 20-minute walk up to St. Christophe, where the prize is a view of a charming church overlooking the valley of Verbier.
For those who seek satisfaction in other ways, there’s also inviting après-ski bars and cafés and a surprising number of chic stores for shopping. Whether it’s upmarket ski fashion you’re after, home interiors or a real estate agency where you can enquire about purchasing something like La Truffe Blanche (although there’s anything quite like it), your demands will more than likely be satisfied.
Alternatively, if you’re keen to test Gino’s abilities, perhaps you’d rather request a midnight snack at the top of a nearby peak with Beluga caviar accompanied with—seeing as you’re staying at the chalet—some real truffes blanches to make you feel at home.
For further information please see:
La Truffe Blanche: www.bestchaletintheworld.com
The Verbier Touch: www.theverbiertouch.com/#/home/
Independent Snowboarding: www.independent-snowboarding.com/